Something for Pa. Voters to Think About regarding Barack Obama


With 5+ weeks to go until the Pa. primary, voters have some time to rustle through the campaign spin and reflect on some thoughtful comments about the candidates.

Consider the following. Cass Sunstein is a prolific and highly respected legal scholar who just authored an article, “The Obama I Know,” in today’s (3/16) Chicago Tribune (see link at bottom of post). It deserves to be read.

For me, Sunstein’s article helps provide an answer to the questions voters are still wrestling with:
Is Obama a flash in the pan? Is he ready to be Commander in Chief? Does he posses the intellect and judgment to be president?

Consider Sunstein’s anecdote about Obama’s position on the FISA debate, which Sunstein had written about. This anecdote reveals a great deal about how Obama thinks about issues.

In about 20 minutes, he and I investigated the legal details. He asked me to explore all sorts of issues: the president’s power as commander in chief, the Constitution’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force and more.

Obama wanted to consider the best possible defense of what Bush had done. To every argument I made, he listened and offered a counterargument. After the issue had been exhausted, Obama said he thought the program was illegal, but now had a better understanding of both sides. He thanked me for my time.

This was a pretty amazing conversation, not only because of Obama’s mastery of the legal details, but also because many prominent Democratic leaders had already blasted the Bush initiative as blatantly illegal. He did not want to take a public position until he had listened to, and explored, what might be said on the other side.

In addition to having an incredibly powerful and curious intellect, Obama is a fundamentally decent human being.

But at the University of Chicago, Obama is liked and admired by both Republicans and Democrats. Some local Reagan enthusiasts are Obama supporters. Why? It doesn’t hurt that he’s a great guy, with a personal touch and a lot of warmth. It certainly helps that he is exceptionally able.

But niceness and ability are only part of the story. Obama has a genuinely independent mind, he’s a terrific listener and he goes wherever reason takes him.

At a moment in this primary season when voters are perhaps being overwhelmed by a Clinton and McCain inspired fear narrative against Obama, it is important to consider that even if you do not agree with him on all the issues, this guy is the real thing when it comes to having balance, intellect and judgment. Obama’s qualities are all the more relevant in contrast to President Bush, who lacks them all.

I can think of only a few other candidates for the democratic nomination during the past 50 years that have had this combination of integrity, intellect– Adlai Stevenson (’52, ’56)– and “personableness”– Mo Udall (’76)– (both men had the integrity and intellect, but adlai lacked mo’s and barack’s personal qualities) They didn’t make it, but a majority of democratic voters thus far agree with Sunstein and think Obama just might offer the sort of leadership that american people have craved for some time.


The Obama I Know.

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4 responses to “Something for Pa. Voters to Think About regarding Barack Obama

  1. Robert Rickover

    Obama needs Clinton, Clinton needs Obama

    If Clinton and Obama want to behave responsibly to make sure one of them actually makes it to the White House, they both need to stop flinging dirt at each other. Here’s the way to make that happen:

    Both publicly pledge that if are nominated for President, the other candidate will be their first choice for the Vice Presidential spot.

    This immediately puts a stop to personal attacks or calling their rival’s ability into question – you don’t dis you choice for second-in-command.

    They can and should debate the issues and clarify their differences. But they are now free to direct their shared anger and outrage where it belongs, at Bush’s policies, and at the policies of the man endorsed by Bush.

    For either Obama or Clinton to win this fall, he or she needs to lead a unified party. And this requires the enthusiastic support of the other.

    Clinton needs Obama, Obama needs Clilnton. That’s just the way it is.

    Obama-Clinton, Clinton-Obama – either “dream team” is McCain’s worst nightmare. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can make that nightmare a reality for him now.

  2. Pingback: Barack Obama News » Blog Archive » Something for Pa. Voters to Think About regarding Barack Obama

  3. Robert-A lot of wisdom and sense in your comment . I agree with you 100%.
    Obama and Hillary should work as a team if they need their party to lead. What they are doing with each other, is bringing division within the dem, and confusing their supporters. They should not fight like, one is republican and other is Dem.
    On March 9 2008, I wrote about what negative campaign can do to both candidates, Check http://www.zambianchronicle.com,
    I saw this coming,. I hoped one would use it as a guide. It did not take a week. My prediction to their negative campaingn against each other heated up.
    I hope your comment can be read by many people. If you allow me, I can post it on Zambian Chronicle.

  4. You say, “I can think of only a few other candidates for the democratic nomination during the past 50 years that have had the intellect– Adlai Stevenson (’52, ‘56)– and “personableness”– Mo Udall (’76)….”

    For clarification purposes, can you explain whether you felt Adlai and Udall had both intellect and personableness, or each had one of those characteristics? Either way, Obama is a candidate gifted with once-in-a-generation abilities.

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